Latest update on Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

Please do not rely on this newsletter for the very latest information. We simply wanted to share the Australian government’s update (Feb 3, 2020) with our members as it may be of concern for some families. Please go to the official site for the most up to date info. All of the information below was taken directly from the Australian Department of Health website.

Information for Schools and Early Childhood Centres: An outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in late December 2019.

What is this virus?

Coronaviruses can make humans and animals sick. Some coronaviruses can cause illness similar to the common cold and others can cause more serious diseases, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

The virus seen in mainland China is called ‘novel’ because it is new. It has not been detected before this outbreak. Most people currently infected live in, or have travelled to, mainland China. There have been some cases of 2019-nCoV reported in other countries. It is likely that the virus originally came from an animal, and there is now evidence that it can spread from person-to-person.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include (but are not limited to) fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue and shortness of breath.

How can we help prevent the spread of 2019-nCoV?

Practising good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene is the best defence. Encourage all children and staff to:

  • wash their hands often with soap and water before and after eating as well as after attending the toilet;
  • be sure to dry the child’s hands very well after they have washed them;
  • avoid contact with others by keeping children home if they are unwell; and,
  • cough and sneeze into their elbow.

Can I attend school or early childhood centre?

In the following scenarios you cannot attend school or childhood centre:

  • If you have travelled from Hubei Province within the past 14 days, you must isolate yourself until 14 days have elapsed after leaving Hubei Province.
  • If you have left, or transited through, mainland China on or after 1 February 2020 you must isolate yourself until 14 days after leaving China.
  • If you have been in close contact with a confirmed case of novel coronavirus, you must isolate yourself for 14 days after last contact with the confirmed case.

In the following scenarios your child can attend school or early childhood centre:

  • Students and staff who have travelled from other provinces of mainland China (and have not been in Hubei province) who arrived prior to 1 February 2020.
  • Students and staff who have only been to Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan.

What if I develop symptoms?

If you, or your child, develop symptoms within 14 days of leaving anywhere in mainland China or within 14 days of last contact with a confirmed case of novel coronavirus, you should arrange to see your usual doctor for urgent assessment. You should telephone the health clinic or hospital before you arrive and tell them of your travel history or that you have been in contact with a confirmed case of novel coronavirus. Your doctor will liaise with Public Health authorities to manage your care. You must then remain isolated either in your home or a healthcare setting until Public Health authorities inform you that it is safe for you to return to your usual activities.

If a student/staff member develops mild symptoms:

  • isolate the student/staff member in a single room away from others;
  • inform the parent/guardian or staff member and advise them to arrange an urgent medical review;
  • when possible, the student/staff member should be isolated at home while waiting for a medical assessment; and,
  • the parent/guardian or staff member should phone ahead to the GP or hospital and inform them that the student/staff member may have novel coronavirus. 

If the student/staff member has severe symptoms, such as shortness of breath:

  • call 000 and request an ambulance;
  • if they are a student, inform their parent(s) or guardian(s); and,
  • inform the paramedics that the student/staff may have novel coronavirus infection.